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Delegates Go Green at the Expo’s Green Aisle

July 1, 2010

By Cindy Long

Walking down the Green Aisle at the NEA Expo 2010, Marie Pierce, a science teacher at Stockbridge Middle School in Fulton County, Georgia, stuffed her green tote bag to overflowing. She got lesson plans and curriculum ideas on everything from climate change and solar energy to school yard habitats and water conservation.


Early annual meeting attendees flocked to the Green Aisle at the 2010 Expo to get ideas for greening their classrooms as well as their own homes.

Photos: NEA/Rick Runion

“There is so much great material to take back for my classroom next school year,” she says.”I really want to get my seventh graders excited about saving the environment and going green.”

Interest in the green movement among NEA Annual Meeting delegates continues to grow every year, and this year there are more than double the number of environmental exhibitors as last year in the exhibit hall, with 17 up from six.

“Not only do they want curricular materials, but the delegates’ interest often turns personal,” says Carolyn Breedlove, manager of NEA’s Green Initiatives program. “They want to know how they can save energy in their own homes, how they can buy more sustainable products, and live greener lives. They’re very action-oriented. They really do live what they teach.”


Carolyn Breedlove manages NEA’s Green Initiatives and helped bring en­vi­ron­ment­al­ly conscious exhibitors to the 2010 Expo’s Green Aisle.

Photo: NEA/Rick Runion

Pierce says she has always lived a sustainable life, and hopes that her students will return to the habit of living closer to the earth.
“I grew up in the country,” she says. “We raised our own vegetables and our own meat. But we’re slowly destroying the environment that allows us to do that. We need to remember the lessons of the past, and teach our kids to consume less and live more sustainably.”
Pierce walked through the Green Aisle with her colleague Gornata Ross, a kindergarten teacher at Hapeville Elementary School, also in Fulton County, Georgia.

“With the oil spill only a few miles from here in the Gulf, it reminds us how important it is that we start environmental education from the very beginning so that the kids of today don’t grow up and make the same mistakes we’re making,” Ross says.

Pierce and Ross were both particularly interested in the Audubon Society’s exhibit, where they signed up to receive the Pennies For the Planet environmental curriculum program, which will be available next September.

Pennies for the Planet is a nationwide campaign that helps critical conservation projects. Next year’s campaign will focus on rescuing the birds of the Gulf Coast. The program is powered by kids collecting pennies (and nickels, dimes, and quarters) to help save wild places and wildlife in the United States. Each year, they raise thousands of dollars that help fund critical conservation efforts.

“We’ve had almost 250 people sign up in the first three hours the exhibit hall was open,” says Elaine O’Sullivan, director of educational publishing at the Audubon Society. “Kids really want to  know what they can do to help the wildlife impacted by the spill, and educators want to empower them to get involved. This is a program that shows them that a small amount of change can add up to a big difference.”


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